Coming in as the first release from the Weinstein brothers’ new company,Derailed arrives with a great deal of anticipation. It gives Clive Owen amuch-deserved lead role and also gives tabloid fave Jennifer Aniston achance to broaden her range. Despite its airport novel origins, canDerailed become one of those rare thrillers (Fatal Attraction, Cape Fear)that win audiences and critics over?
Charles (Clive Owen) is a bored executive who despite having anattractive, successful wife and a loving daughter, has wandering eyes. Oneday he misses his train and meets Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston), on the nextone. She too is married and has a daughter but there is an unmistakableattraction. One which leads them all the way to a seedy hotel room. Butbefore they have a chance to consummate their affair they get interrupted bya psychopath (Vincent Cassel) who proceeds to turn their lives upsidedown.
Derailed is a mix of one of those everything-falls-apart thrillers likeNo Way Out and also the infidelity-is-bad ones like Fatal Attraction.But those movies did not require such a massive suspension of disbelief. The initial confrontationwith Cassel includes a rape scene with Aniston which was toned down from thebook where each of the 12 separate rapes were described in detail. It wasstill wince-inducing, and was one of many occasions whererealistically the characters would go to the police. They don’t want todestroy their marriages, but once the extortion starts it just gets hard tostomach.
But it didn’t really pose too much of a problem.I think the film was well made enough for it not to really matter.Suspense was well maintained throughout and there were a number of greatshocks. A botched revenge attempt was a particular surprise and there’s achilling moment when Cassel gets rather too close to home. Clive Owen is alikeable leading man and his American accent didn’t bother me here as muchas it did in Sin City. Jennifer Aniston was particularly successful incompletely erasing all thoughts of Rachel from your memory. She doesn’t havea lot of screen time but it bodes well for future non-comedic roles.
Vincent Cassel is fine although he feels rather too much like a snarlingevil villain sometimes, complete with his henchmen. It’s a shame Owen’sspouse, played by Melissa George, doesn’t get more to do. Her role is strictlythe inactive wife who whimpers and worries. The inexplicable trend ofputting rappers in films is continued here with pointless performances fromXzibit and RZA, who seems like he’s in a separate movie as the unfunnycomedy sidekick who keeps saying things like ‘fool’ and ‘motherf***a’. Thefilm also uses the traditional genre staple of giving the lead’s daughterdiabetes just so you know it will be exploited in a key scene.
There is a major twist which leads to a rather dumb shootout, but if youstick with it there’s a suitably satisfying double-bluff finale which willhave a sure-fire crowd pleasing effect. As the first film from theWeinsteins’ new company it’s not going to win any awards, but you could domuch worse on a Saturday night. Derailed is full of holes, but a guilty pleasure noless.